God’s Words to Adam

Garden of Eden

Adam was created by God and was the first man to live on the earth. The first three chapters of Genesis record his beginning up until his fall. In these chapters, God made several statements directly to Adam. In this article, we will consider what God said to Adam and see what we can learn from these statements.

God’s Charge to Adam

God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so” (Genesis 1:28-30).

Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, the Lord gave instructions to Adam regarding his role in God’s creation.

Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) – Sexual relations should be had with the understanding that children can come from that union. This does not mean that all can have children or that sexual relations should not be enjoyed otherwise. But from the beginning, sexual relations and having children were linked together. Therefore, sexual activity is necessarily for a man and a woman (Genesis 1:27-28). Later we learn this is reserved for the marriage relationship (Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4). Homosexuality is implicitly condemned here as it is explicitly condemned elsewhere (Genesis 19; Jude 7; et al.).

Fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28) – This is also related to childbearing. Adam was told to “fill the earth.” Obviously, this would not be completed in Adam’s day. All people have descended from Adam (Acts 17:26), but not in one generation. The earth still has yet to be filled, but each generation since Adam has contributed to the growing population. Of the total number of people who have lived, an extremely small percentage were of that first generation from Adam. Yet he and Eve worked to carry out that command. A lesson we can take from this is that we should always do what we can, no matter how insignificant our efforts may seem in the big picture. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Subdue it; and rule over…every living thing” (Genesis 1:28) – Man has been given the chief position in God’s creation. He was made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) and was positioned “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5, KJV). Man is not equal with the animals; man is greater than the animals and every other created thing. However, he is still subject to God [more on this in a moment].

I have given…food for you” (Genesis 1:29) – God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17) and His providence continues today. After the flood, He told Noah, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Paul told the men in Lystra, “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Jesus gave a reminder of God’s providence when He told people to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God provided food for Adam and provides for us as well.

God’s Command to Adam

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).

After creating man and providing every good thing, God placed limits on what Adam was permitted to do and commanded him what to avoid.

From any tree of the garden you may eat freely” (Genesis 2:16) – God started with a permission which was a reminder of the fact that He had previously given all the plants for food (Genesis 1:29). His permission (to eat “from any tree”) was far greater than the restriction that He was about to give (not to eat of one particular tree). Many focus on God’s restrictions. Satan uses this to tempt us to sin (cf. Genesis 3:1). However, God has given us much liberty. John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The fact that the Lord’s commandments are not burdensome is the reason why Paul wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). While God has certainly given us a law to follow, He has also given us much liberty. We should enjoy the liberty we have in Christ rather than resenting the Lord’s restrictions by focusing on those things of which we have been “deprived.”

But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17) – God clearly stated His law. Adam did not have to figure out a riddle or piece together a series of clues to determine which tree was the forbidden tree. God plainly told him. God has always revealed His will to man in a way that we can understand it. Paul told the Ephesians, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). Even when we think we have a “good reason” to violate the word of God – and Satan convinced Eve it would benefit her to eat of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:5) – we must not disobey. Abraham could have come up with any number of “good reasons” to disobey God’s instruction to offer up his son Isaac, but he obeyed the Lord anyway (Hebrews 11:17-18).

In the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17) – God punishes sin. After listing several sins, Paul wrote, “For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6). Paul told the saints in Rome, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). When we sin, we stand to be punished (Romans 6:23). This punishment is spiritual death, not physical. Adam did not physically die the day he ate of the forbidden tree – that would come much later (Genesis 5:5). However, he was separated from God – physically (Genesis 3:23-24) and spiritually (Isaiah 59:2). Sin causes spiritual death for man today.

God’s Questions to Adam

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:9-12).

After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God. The Lord asked a series of questions of Adam about where he was and what he had done.

Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) – We need to remember that when God asked these questions, He already knew the answers. He was not looking for information but was giving Adam an opportunity to come forward and own up to what he had done. God knew where Adam was, just as He knows where we are at all times. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). There is nowhere that we can go that is beyond what God is able to see and know (Psalm 139:7-12).

Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11) – Before Adam and Eve sinned, they “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). After they sinned, they acquired the “knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17; 3:5). There was not a change in their physical appearance, but in their thoughts regarding the significance of their nakedness. When God asked this question, He was already aware of the mental understanding they had gained about their condition. Likewise, He knows our thoughts today. The Hebrew writer said, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). We might be able to conceal our “thoughts and intentions” from others, but we will not hide them from God.

Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11) – Again, God already knew what they had done in eating of the forbidden tree. In the same way, He knows what we have done throughout our lives. One day we will each stand before Christ in judgment and will be “recompensed for [our] deeds in the body, according to what [we have] done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Though we may hide some sins from others, we will not hide them from God. He will “judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:16). If we have sin in our lives, we can “be sure [our] sin will find [us] out” (Numbers 32:23).

God’s Condemnation of Adam

Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it”; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return’” (Genesis 3:17-19).

After confronting Adam and Eve for their sin, the Lord pronounced His judgment against Adam for his actions.

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife” (Genesis 3:17) – The husband is to be the head of the family (Ephesians 5:23; 1 Timothy 2:11-13). In this role, he is to provide spiritual direction. Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Joshua led his family in such a way that he could say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). It is important to note that Adam was not wrong for listening to his wife. Husbands need to listen to their wives in order to “live with [them] in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7) and please her (1 Corinthians 7:33). However, it is wrong for a husband to listen to his wife over God. This led Adam to sin.

Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17) – One lesson that we need to remember is that sin has far-reaching consequences. When God cursed the ground because of Adam, that would affect every generation that would follow. Sin is a pollution that affects more than just the one who committed a particular sin (Isaiah 24:5). The consequences of sin can often impact others for generations (Exodus 20:4-5).

By the sweat of your face you will eat bread” (Genesis 3:19) – Work is necessary in order to eat. Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Even before his sin, God gave Adam work to do (Genesis 2:15), but after the ground was cursed that work would become much more difficult. God expects His people to be willing to work hard to provide for themselves (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Colossians 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, 12).

You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) – This was a reminder of man’s creation in which he was “formed…of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7). At this point, it was also a reminder of his temporary life. Regarding the brevity of life, James wrote, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). The wise man said that when one dies, “the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).


After Adam was expelled from the Garden, the Scriptures contain no other record of God speaking to him. That does not necessarily mean that God did not communicate with Adam after this, but there was nothing that needed to be preserved for us.

As we consider Adam, we need to remember that sin brings condemnation. In contrast with Adam, we have hope through Christ. The first prophecy of the redeeming work of Christ was made after Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:15). Paul contrasted Adam and Christ in his letter to the church in Corinth: “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Spiritual death comes to us for our own sin, not Adam’s sin. Paul said that “death spread to all men,” not because Adam sinned, but “because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). We are each individually accountable to God for the sins we have committed (Ezekiel 18:20). Therefore, we must be sure to take advantage of the gift of salvation in Christ (Romans 6:23).

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  1. Good article.